Will your waterlilies survive in my climate?

One customer asked: We couldn’t believe it resists -20 °F (-28°C). Is it true?

Here’s our answer:

Brrrrrr…that is cold…for us humans anyway…but here’s what it’s like for a waterlily…

Waterlilies are planted in the soil in the water.  Ice only gets as cold as 32° F.  So, the waterlily rhizome is actually insulated from the -20° F by the ice that surrounds it.  The leaves and flowers will die back, of course, but as long as the rhizome can handle 32° F and it has enough energy stored in the rhizome to keep it dormant in the ice, it can survive.  So, the question would be…how long can it survive in the ice?

What we know is that all of the waterlilies we sell, including Mike’s Exclusive Hybrids, have survived on the top of a mountain in West Virginia in a clay pond under 12 inches of ice, in clay that was probably “frozen”, for more than a month.  We’ve had a lot of hybrids that didn’t pass this test.  They just die…never to be seen again.  We don’t do anything special to keep our plants alive.  If they are truly Hardy, they will survive.

So the next question would be…is the weather warm enough, for long enough, for the rhizome to come out of dormancy to grow and store enough nutrients to last for another season under the ice?

Chances are, it could last a lot longer than our testing, and we’d love to find out!  We’d would love to hear from you about your experience.

How do you ship my order?

We offer standard shipping by USPS Priority. You may also choose Express Overnight (Weekdays only for orders placed before 10am.  Please call to confirm before placing your order.), and USPS Priority Express.  Our free shipping uses USPS Priority.

When do you ship my order?

Generally, unless back-ordered or otherwise noted on the website,

  • Orders placed before 10am M-F will be shipped the same day.
  • Orders placed after 10am M-F may be shipped the same day, or will for sure be shipped the following day, M-S.
  • Orders placed on Saturday will be shipped on Monday.


  • In order to keep your order from being held over on Sunday at the Post Office, USPS Priority 2-day Shipping* will not be shipped on Friday.
  • In order to keep your order from being held over on Sunday at the Post Office, USPS Priority 3-day Shipping* will not be shipped on Thursday.

Below is a table of our schedule.

Order Received Priority 1-day* Ships On Priority 2-day* Ships On Priority 3-day* Ships On
Monday, before 10 Monday Monday Monday
Monday, after 10 Possibly Monday, but for sure Tuesday Possibly Monday, but for sure Tuesday Possibly Monday, but for sure Tuesday
Tuesday, before 10 Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday
Tuesday, after 10 Possibly Tuesday, but for sure Wednesday Possibly Tuesday, but for sure Wednesday Possibly Tuesday, but for sure Wednesday
Wednesday, before 10 Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday
Wednesday, after 10 Possibly Wednesday, but for sure Thursday Possibly Wednesday, but for sure Thursday Possibly Wednesday, but for sure Friday
Thursday, before 10 Thursday Thursday Friday
Thursday, after 10 Possibly Thursday, but for sure Friday Possibly Thursday, but for sure Saturday Friday
Friday, before 10 Friday Saturday Friday
Friday, after 10 Possibly Friday, but for sure Monday Saturday Possibly Friday, but for sure Saturday
Saturday Monday Monday Monday

*To determine if your shipping address is 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day, see the map below or use the USPS Calculator and use 32643 as the “mail from” Zip Code and select Flate Rate Boxes.  The title in the list will indicate how many days it should take.

When will my order arrive?

Standard shipping is by USPS Priority and generally takes about 2-3 days.  Please check the map below for shipping USPS Priority to your area.

Priority Mail Map

Please call us if you need specifics on Overnight and Express orders.

How much is shipping?

If your order is over $150, USPS Priority shipping in the continental US is FREE!

If you can’t find enough beautiful waterlilies to bring your order to $150, here’s how we calculate shipping:

Per Order: $7.35
Per Small Waterlily: $1.05
Per Medium Waterlily: $1.75
Per Large Waterlily: $3.65

You can find out the “shipping size” of the waterlily in the “Shipping” Tab of each waterlily.

For Express Overnight (FedEx or UPS) add $50.

For Priority Mail Express, add $35.

Shipping to CA, OR, & WY require a phytosanitary certificate.  The fee for this certificate is $58 and will be added to the shipping fees, once per order.  Shipping to Wyoming is also subject to a $25 surcharge.  For orders over $150 to states requiring a photo-sanitary inspection, we will be happy to refund the actual shipping fees (not the phyto or surcharge fees) once you place the order.  Simply call us at 352-363-5500 or send us an email to customerservice@turtleislandwaterlilies.com.

Do you ship out of the country?

Please use this form for international order requests.

How can I track my order?

You will receive an email with the tracking number as soon as we print the label.  Then you will receive an email when USPS has the package, when it reaches your post office, when it is out for delivery, if there are any exceptions, and when it is delivered.   I also include a small ice pack in the package to give it a little extra time in the warmer months.

What type of fertilizer should I use?

If you are planting the rhizome for the first time or re-potting a plant, you can use granular fertilizer or tablets.

If you don’t need to re-pot the plant, the easiest way to fertilize is to push tablets into the soil.

It’s best to use a slow-release fertilizer.  This will keep your pond from an over-growth of algae.

What kind of pot should I use?

The best pot would look kind of like a dishpan, shallow and long because the waterlily rhizome grows under the soil kind of like a hose.  The flower and leaf stems grow from the tip and the tip keeps growing forward.  A standard pot can work okay.  An azalea pot is better because it is shallower and wider.

In a round pot, a less aggressive waterlily planted adjacent to the edge of the pot will simply follow the curve of the pot. An aggressive waterlily will jump right out of the pot at the slightest resistance. That being said, it is more common to plant the rhizome up at a sharp angle with the growing point at the top of the soil, headed toward the center of and across the pot.

Now if you use a regular pot, it will have holes in the bottom, so you’ll need to use something to cover the holes so the soil won’t just leak out once you put the pot in the water.  Hence the need for some barrier like burlap.  We use cut squares of weed fabric to cover the holes in the bottom.

What size “pot” should I use?

The size of the pot depends on a couple of things. How big the rhizome is, how big you want the water lily to grow (for adaptable plants), and how often you want to re-pot it. Some waterlilies are larger than others and just need bigger pots.  Some are small and will be happy in a small pot.  Some waterlilies you can regulate their size by putting them in a smaller pot.  The smaller the pot, the smaller the plant will stay.  For most waterlilies, the smaller the pot, the more often you will have to re-pot it because it is root-bound or has just jumped out of the pot and is headed across your pond.

What kind of soil should I use?

In our experience clay is the best soil for waterlilies.  We used to recommend standard garden soil, but the last time we bought standard garden soil was so fluffy with all kinds of wood chips and organic matter that the waterlily would have died in no time.  Sand is good, but the fertilizer tends to leach out of the sand more easily than clay.  You could also use a layered approach…a layer of peat on the bottom and a layer of clay on top with a sandy soil in between.

How much fertilizer should I use?

Generally, follow the manufacturer’s directions to determine appropriate number of tablets or granular fertilizer.

Mike has this to say about fertilizer…

It’s better to be slightly under-fertilized than over-fertilized. As long as the leaves are green and new leaves are coming up regularly then that is good enough. More fertilizer than that and you’ll have bigger plants with more and bigger leaves and less but bigger flowers. Also, highly fertilized lilies will outgrow their pots quicker. And that might make them flower less too. I use Landon granular fertilizer but cut the amount by half, especially in the north. Tablets are good because you can add a couple and see if that is enough and add more if needed without getting too much.

How do I pot my waterlily?

Fill the pot 3/4 full with soil.

Plant the rhizome at the edge of the container so it can grow horizontally across the top.  Some people use pebbles to cover the top of the soil to keep the soil in the pot.  We don’t.  We water the soil thoroughly beforehand, and then gently and gradually place the pot in the water.  If you’d like to use pebbles on the top, add soil to leave 2″ from the top of the pot for your 1″ of pebbles, otherwise, just fill it with soil to 1″ below the rim.

No matter what kind of soil you use, you’ll need to place a rock over the rhizome and next to the crown (or growing point) to keep it from floating way.  The size of the rock should be just large enough to keep the rhizome in the soil. You can remove the rock once the roots have been established.

Whatever way you choose, the crown of the rhizome should be at the surface of the soil and the rock should be next to, not on top of, the crown.

Water the soil thoroughly and then gently and gradually place the pot in the water.

Now relax and enjoy your beautiful pond!

p.s. Do not construct containers from treated lumber since growth could be severely inhibited.